Stocker’s Kitchen: A Novel About Food, Love and the Search for Redemption, by Juliet Wittman
Among the dozens of magazines, podcasts, newspaper articles and blogs that feed our food-obsessed culture, as well as the cut-throat competition of Top Chef and the gentle realism of The Great British Baking Show, stands Stocker, chef-owner of Stocker’s Kitchen in New York, and a complete original. Stocker is short, loud, and profane, but from his greasy kitchen emerge brilliantly clean flavors and food that nurtures, soothes and inspires.
Stocker’s hard-edged self-confidence falters when he falls in love with Angela, a young, half-Vietnamese woman as profoundly and implacably hungry as himself. He also has to deal with elegant pastry chef Jon, whose ideas about food directly contradict his own. Jon lives with Keith, his kind-hearted and sadly under-appreciated lover.
Stocker’s Kitchen is a novel about food, love, damaged people and a muted but persistent search for grace.
“This isn’t an easy book. But I don’t want an easy book, I want what Juliet Wittman has written, an agonized and lyrical story filled with people who are often damaged, often inspired, always fascinating. I love how the author takes a troubled soul—Stocker is only one example—and develops a character we want to know, someone we root for and suffer with and learn from. Stocker is ‘short and fat and vulgar,’ a guy with ‘no peace or order to his life.’ But in his kitchen, and in his romance with Angela, he’s brilliantly alive. So is Angela. So are Keith and Jon. So is everyone in this exuberant and gorgeously-written book.”
–John Thorndike, author of A Hundred Fires in Cuba and The Last of His Mind
“Juliet Wittman’s timely novel casts a clear eye on life in the professional kitchen. Her prose revels in the tactile pleasures of working with food and the romance of lives devoted to craft. But it never shies away from the toxicity of that culture, nor the mental health issues that its characters, like so many cooks, must deal with. In Stocker she has created a character with a distinctive voice. After reading the novel you want nothing so much as to try his food.”
–John Kessler, long-time dining critic for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, award-winning writer, and chairman of the James Beard Foundation’s journalism awards committee.
“As a chef, I believe the meal is at the center of human experience, and it is at the table where we are nourished, come together with friends and family and connect to tradition. This is the spirit that animates Stocker’s Kitchen. But it was the colorful characters and their stories that intrigued me most, and I flew through the novel in a day and a half.”
–Teri Rippeto, chef-owner Potager, Denver
Author Juliet Wittman grew up in London, and has lived in the United States through much of her adult life. An investigative reporter, theatre critic, and writing instructor at the University of Colorado, she taught writing classes on the topic of food for several years. Much of her thinking on the centrality of food to our lives, and the way it shapes thought and culture was inspired by her students’ personal stories.
Wittman has won journalism awards and published essays and short stories in literary magazines. Her memoir, Breast Cancer Journal: A Century of Petals, won the Colorado Book Award and was named a finalist for the National Book Award.
STOCKER’S KITCHEN: A Novel about Food, Love, and the Search for Redemption
By Juliet Wittman
Publication Date: 01/25/2019
Genre: General Fiction
Publisher: Beck and Branch
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9972644-9-4,
Kindle and ePub 978-0-9994457-9-2